Malaysia launches Al Jazeera ‘sedition’ probe over documentary on migrant workers

Screenshot from Al Jazeera's documentary title “Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” - produced by the channel's 101 East news program. Malaysian police on Tuesday said it opened an investigation into the documentary on the country’s arrests of undocumented migrants, which authorities have accused of being an attempt to tarnish Malaysia’s image. (Courtesy: Al Jazeera International YouTube Channel) 
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Updated 08 July 2020

Malaysia launches Al Jazeera ‘sedition’ probe over documentary on migrant workers

  • Police call for program makers to come forward, explain report on mass arrests claim in COVID-19 lockdown hotspots

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities on Tuesday launched an investigation into a TV documentary by Qatari state-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera on the alleged mass arrests of migrant workers in Malaysia during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdowns.

Officials said the film report, titled “Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” and produced by Al Jazeera’s 101 East news program, had been an attempt to sully Malaysia’s international image.

The documentary highlighted the plight of thousands of undocumented migrants reportedly arrested during raids carried out in COVID-19 lockdown hotspots.

In a statement, Federal Criminal Investigations Department director, commissioner Huzir Mohamed, said: “The baseless and one-sided news report had subsequently caused uncertainty and anxiety among the majority of the population, as if portraying the government’s unyielding approach toward the broadcasting of inaccurate news on the government’s success in containing the outbreak.

“No one will be spared from the long arm of the law if they are found to have tarnished the country’s image.”

Mohamed added that police had so far received at least five police reports regarding the case and identified several individuals involved in assisting with the reporting.

“The police also call for the Al Jazeera journalist and others involved in the documentary production to come forward as soon as possible,” the commissioner said, adding that the channel would be investigated for alleged sedition.

The Malaysian Immigration Department also circulated a notice on Tuesday, saying it was looking for a 25-year-old Bangladeshi national who was one of the people quoted by Al Jazeera in the documentary.

Al Jazeera has so far not commented on the investigation.

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 11 min 3 sec ago

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”